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Press Review: Bosnia and Terrorism

  • Charles Recknagel



Prague, August 1 (RFE/RL) -- Developments in Bosnia are the focus of press comment today. Papers also continue to look at global terrorism in the wake of last weekend's bombing at the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

BOSNIA

LE FIGARO: Croat separatists made a difficult but unavoidable decision

The French paper analyzes yesterday's agreement between Bosnian Muslim and Croat officials to dismantle the self-proclaimed Croat mini-state in Bosnia called Herzeg-Bosna. The paper writes: "After a long struggle, the Croat separatists have agreed... to dissolve their political structure." It continues: "According to the official (Croat) version, (Croat) president (Franjo Tudjman) has welcomed the decision by Bosnian-Croats to transform Herzeg-Bosna into a so-called political community of Croat peoples ... (something) whose meaning still remains vague. (But) in reality, Zagreb was forced to... renounce its dream to annex Herzeg-Bosna to Croatia." Le Figaro concludes: "It was a difficult decision to make, given the tight links between Zagreb and Herzeg-Bosna, but unavoidable if Croatia intends one day to be integrated into Europe."

FINANCIAL TIMES: EU fears that failure in Mostar will scupper Bosnian elections

The British paper today looks at the continuing attempts of the international community to break the Bosnian-Croats' boycott of Mostar's city government. Laura Silber writes that the European Union, which has set an August 4 deadline for winding up its mission in Mostar if the boycott is not ended, is putting "mounting pressure on Croatia's President Tudjman to rein in his nationalist proxies in the Muslim-Croat Federation." Silber concludes that the EU is "asking Mr. Tudjman to meet the ... deadline, fearing that failure in Mostar will scupper the Bosnia-wide elections."

WASHINGTON POST: The United States can't just walk away from Bosnia

A commentary by a member of the U.S. Congress in today's paper says that the international community must be prepared to maintain a stabilizing presence in Bosnia following the completion of the NATO-led Implementation Force's (IFOR) one-year peacekeeping mandate in December. U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton writes that the "United States can't just walk away" from Bosnia. He says that IFOR "has been a military success... but the victory is not won yet... tensions and hatreds persist (and) efforts to build peace will stop in their tracks if all forces are withdrawn."

The writer continues: "It is apparent to all that even with elections, fledgling political institutions in Bosnia will be weak, at best, when IFOR leaves. The physical and psychological wounds of three-and-a-half years of war are simply too great to overcome in a year's time, no matter how much progress has been made in civilian reconstruction." Hamilton concludes: "Without a follow-on force, all momentum gained toward peace and stability in Bosnia could be lost."

TERRORISM

Turning to terrorism, a debate rages in U.S. newspapers over whether the country should implement stronger public security measures against future attacks, even if they risk diminishing Americans' sense of privacy and personal freedom.

PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS: The cure--excessive security measures--is worse than the disease

In an editorial earlier this week, the paper said the U.S. would be wrong to sacrifice a bit of freedom for a bit more security. The paper argued: "The pipebomb in Atlanta, the crash of TWA flight 800 ... all these tragedies damage our sense of safety and rob us of our shreds of collective innocence. They make us crave security." But the paper said that recent proposals by U.S. President Bill Clinton to expand the federal government's power to monitor telephone conversations as a means of tracking terrorists are wrongheaded. The Philadelphia Daily News concludes: "That cure is worse than the disease."

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS: In the post-communist era, terrorism has been privatized

"A new kind of terrorism is threatening the West... freelance terrorism," says Trudy Rubin writing this week. She said: "Terrorists have become more individualistic, more amorphous, harder to pin down. No longer does the biggest danger come from a network of nationalist guerilla movements and far-left gangs trained and funded by communist states and their Mideast allies. In the post-communist era, terrorism has been privatized." She continues: "Home-grown right-wing anarchists... and religous fanatics now pose the biggest menace." Rubin concludes: "The remains of TWA flight 800 are an ugly warning. The privatization of terrorism requires tough, coordinated, state responses."

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Living in fear of terrorism makes life miserable

David Grossman warned in the paper this week that tightening security in the hope of preventing terrorist attacks greatly diminishes the quality of life in a democracy. The writer said that as an Israeli resident in Jerusalem, "he can confirm that (living in fear of terrorism) makes life miserable." He continued: "It forces a military way of life on every citizen, one that slowly permeates all areas of life, at great cost. You gradually find yourself surrounded by people and organizations whose job it is to protect you. But they only make you more nervous and insecure." Grossman concluded that "despite yourself you sharpen your system of identifying, classifying, (and) selecting people on the basis of ethnic and national traits and... learn xenophobia."

COX NEWS SERVICE: Israel has not been able to halt all acts of terror

"America, prepare to be searched," said Charles Holmes wrote for the service this week. Holmes, who is a Mideast correspondent, wrote that "the age of terror, so slow to reach the insular United States, has arrived with a tragic vengeance. Americans are about to learn what life has been like for years in the Middle East and Europe, particularly in Israel where terrorism and the history of the state are inseparable." He continued: "Sadly, terrorism works, It terrifies. It forces us to consider the horrible possibilities and abandon certain personal liberties in favor of a measure of security." But, he warned, "as America enters this new era of caution, there should be no illusion of a absolute fix. Israel proves that. Its anti-terrorism measures are unequalled...yet the fresh bloodstains on its streets attest to the fact that Israel has not been able to put a halt to all acts of terror."

PHOENIX GAZETTE: Intimidation and violence are as American as hollow point bullets

One writer said "enough" to much of the recent U.S. media's commentary on terrorism. Bill Hart wrote in the paper this week that "to hear the experts talk, we're supposed to be (shocked) because 'terrorism has come to America', because 'our innocence has been shattered,' because 'America has 'changed forever.'" But, he said, "these are mighty strange conclusions about a country that, for better or worse, has been awash in violence throughout its existence." He continued: "one person was killed and scores injured in the Atlanta (bombing). How many do you suppose were assaulted and murdered elsewhere in America (that same) morning? How many elsewhere in Atlanta alone?" Hart concluded: "I'm not suggesting that bombing American cities is O.K.... or that we should simply shrug it off. But let's dispense with the wounded innocence. Intimidation and violence are as American as hollow point (bullets). The only real shock is that some of us are still trying to deny it."
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